Cougars Meet the Bears
Kim Yeoman (Dayton, NV) wanted to participate in a bear study, but
because she has spina bifida, she knew she couldn't handle the
mountainous terrain in her wheelchair. Impressed by her enthusiasm,
Professor Hal Black asked the Cougars football team to take her up the
mountain to see the bears. Players Dustin Gabriel, Jeremy Gillespie,
Brett Cooper, Kayle Buchannon, and Eric Watterson volunteered.
Gabriel and his
teammates met Yeoman where the research group had located a bear radio
signal. With a helmet in place, the players strapped Yeoman into a
rescue sled, which they pulled through the snow, and lifted over rough
terrain to the den. When research assistant Josh Heward emerged from the
den with a tranquilized 24-pound yearling black bear and placed it in
Yeoman's lap, she said, grinning, "This is awesome, amazing."
"We're excited she had
this experience," said Dr. Black. "It might encourage others to not be
timid and to look for opportunities to be involved."
Study Improves Watershed Use
Matt Pyne (Fruit Heights, UT) works on a watershed project funded by
the U.S. Forest Service. Management of watershed resources will become
easier when they are classified according to the project's findings.
Pyne collected algae, insects, and fish from 138 sites in 16 different
watersheds in Wyoming. Once the watersheds are grouped, researchers can
find which fish do better in each watershed class.
"The theory is that
large-scale watershed characteristics will help determine which
organisms are going to live there and which are not," said Pyne. "If
these new classifications work, the Forest Service will be able to
manage them in groups instead of as individual watersheds."
Pyne will earn his
master's degree in December, 2005 and move on to a Ph.D. program in
Genetic Markers Find Genes
[Plant & Animal
Science] Marc Ricks (Provo, UT) had the performance, motivation, and
enthusiasm to set him apart as a top researcher among undergraduate
students. He helped develop a genetic map of Chenopodium quinoa using
molecular markers. His work was published in a professional journal.
In Fall 2003, Ricks
joined professor Rick Jellen's research group as a graduate student. He
helped develop an analytical assay to quantify saponin (soap-like)
compounds in quinoa seeds using HPLC. This allowed him to use genetic
markers to identify the location of genes controlling the deposition of
saponin in several segregating populations. Ricks has been offered
M.D./ Ph.D. programs at several top universities.
Andean Crop Genes Studied
[Plant and Animal
Science] Lauren Pitt (Orem, UT) is working as a research assistant on a
project to identify genes encoding seed storage proteins in the Andean
crop plant quinoa. The study will lead to a better understanding of the
mechanisms responsible for high protein levels in quinoa seeds.
Pitt gained valuable
research experience while working as an intern at the Danforth Plant
Research Laboratory in St. Louis, MO in 2004, which helps her provide
leadership to undergraduate researchers in the plant genetics and
biotechnology laboratory at BYU.
Pitt will graduate in
June 2006 and has aspirations of pursuing an advanced degree in plant
Desire Fuels Dreams
Stott (Salt Lake City, UT) likes to keep in shape—you may see him
reading his scriptures as he flies by on his bicycle. He believes
neither physical nor spiritual health should be neglected. That's why
he's attending BYU.
Stott returned from his
mission with a desire to improve health care. "I learned about some
serious health concerns, and have a better idea of how beneficial
changes can be. I'd like to start clinics, businesses, and city
planning in underdeveloped areas and bring them up to speed on technical
" 'If ye have desires
to serve God ye are called to the work,' " Stott quotes from D&C
4:3. "You don't have to wait for somebody to tell you what to do."
Student Earns Top Fellowship
Sean Taylor (Aiken, SC) began his research experience in 2000 in the BYU
DNA Sequencing Center. He quickly learned the technical skills of DNA
sequencing which helped optimize new chemistries and protocols still
used in the center. He then transferred to the Whiting lab to focus on
insect genome evolution.
His research on the
genetic history of the robberfly and the genetics of the flea visual
system were presented at national and international conferences and
later published. His flea research earned a first place award over the
research of competing doctoral students. The culmination of Taylor's
experience was receiving the prestigious Director's Fellowship from Yale
University ($185,000), which covers the entire cost of his graduate
education in the top program in the country. He believes his extensive
undergraduate mentoring experience gave him an advantage over other
graduate students in his program.
DNA Makes Relationships
Jonathan Osborne (Newberg, OR) focused on insect systematics in Dr.
Michael Whiting's lab. "We amplify and sequence DNA to use genes
combined with morphology to establish relationships among insect
groups," said Osborne. He collaborated with Luke Jacobus of Purdue
University who does morphology on mayflies. "I did the DNA work," said
Osborne. "I included the collection of 50 specimens, selected the genes
to use, and amplified each gene on every specimen separately." Osborne
also co-authored a manuscript for publication.
Mentoring Opens Doors
& Food Science] As the Technical Business Manager of the Food
Processors Association, a subsidiary of the Food Products
Association), Bradley Taylor, Ph.D. (Washington, D.C.) directs training
and research programs. He received his B.S. from BYU in 1999 and his
Ph.D. from Utah State University. At BYU, Taylor worked in the quality
and sensory labs, and participated in the college bowl and dairy
"I was mentored
predominately by Dr. Lynn Ogden," said Taylor, "and still look to him
for collaboration between BYU and the FPA and its member companies. He
provided opportunities to work in laboratory settings and discuss the
design, execution, and results of experiments. He encouraged me to
perform at a higher level of learning and apply the theories discussed
in the classroom to real world processes."
"Even while I was in
the graduate program at USU, Dr. Ogden corresponded with me periodically
to monitor my research activities. I was unrefined when I began to
work in his laboratory, but he saw potential and pointed me to
opportunities that have subsequently shaped my life."
New Degreed Program Produces First Graduate
Developmental Biology] Tyler Prestwich was the first student to graduate
with a degree in physiology and developmental biology, a new program of
study in the College of Biology and Agriculture. As part of his
program, Prestwich participated in mentored research studying early
events in embryonic development.
In the research lab of
Dr. Michael Stark, Prestwich chose to focus on a project aimed at
understanding the cellular and molecular processes that govern how the
vertebrate body takes shape. He discovered that the timing of certain
developmental processes influences key components of body shape and
form, such as the number of vertebrae in the spine. He had the
opportunity to travel to several regional, national, and international
meetings to present his findings. He is now pursuing his Ph.D. degree at
the University of Michigan. By working closely with Dr. Stark,
Prestwich gained the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in his
chosen career path. 14 BYU BioAg Magazine - Spring 2005